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My Garden Diary

March and April 2017

Copyright © 2017 by David E. Ross

Many years ago, when I first started my Web site, I created an online diary of my gardening activities and observations. However, with work and the commute from Hell, I was often so tired I had to choose between maintaining my garden and maintaining my diary. Sometimes, I did neither. In 1998, I stopped my diary and removed the pages from my Web site.

Now I am retired. I am well-rested and have plenty of time to both garden and maintain a diary. This diary is primarily for my own benefit, so that I can look back upon what I did and when. But I thought others might also be interested, so here it is.

Also see What's Blooming in My Garden Now?


January-February 2013
March-April 2013
May-June 2013
July-August 2013
September-October 2013
November-December 2013
January-February 2014
March-April 2014
May-June 2014
July-August 2014
September-October 2014
November-December 2014
January-February 2015
March-April 2015
May-June 2015
July-August 2015
September-October 2015
November-December 2015
January-February 2016
March-April 2016
May-June 2016
July-August 2016
September-October 2016
November-December 2016
January-February 2017

Diary entries for 2004 through 2012

Entries below are in reverse order (latest at the top). Daily, I might stoop to pull a weed or use a hose to water some potted plants; however, I don't consider those significant gardening activities. Thus, you will not see daily entries. Also, I might accumulate a few entries before updating this page on the Web.

When plants have well-known common names, their scientific names are given only the first time they appear on this page (entry closest to the bottom). There, the common name is in bold or appears as a link to another Web page.

Dates refer to other entries in the same year as the entry in which they appear unless a different year is given. Dates without years, however, may refer to entries on prior pages for the same year.

Date and Weather Observations and Activities
21 Apr

Clear, sunny, and warm

Temp: 60-89
Winter chill: 318.0 hours
Humidity: 16%
Wind: 5-17

Finished trimming a lavender in the circular bed in back (19&nbs;Apr).

Also finished pruning the myrtle that I started last weekend (16 Apr). Just a few hours after my garden waste was collected, the garden waste bin is full again. There are still three myrtles to prune.


Rain —
This season: 19.15
Days since last: 13

19 Apr

Clear, sunny, and mild

Temp: 51-74
Winter chill: 318.0 hours
Humidity: 51%
Wind: 0-19

Rain —
This season: 19.15
Days since last: 11

Gave my mailbox in front a hair cut. That is, I trimmed the dwarf English ivy (Hedera helix 'Hahn's') that grows on the mailbox. I also trimmed the pink clover (Persicaria capitata) lawn adjacent to the shrub beds and the dwarf English ivy around the liquidambar tree (L. styraciflua).

Since the baby humming birds learned to fly and left there nest their, I trimmed the potted weeping Chinese banyan (Ficus benjamina) on my front porch. This coming fall, I will trim it again to discourage the humming birds from nesting. They scattered their droppings over the porch and onto my front door. There are plenty of other places in my garden that are appropriate for their nests.

Started trimming a 'Goodwin Creek Grey' lavender (Lavandula lanata × dentata) that is in the circular bed in back. It is crowding the adjacent azaleas and partially blocking the path around the bed.

16 Apr

Clear, sunny, and mild

Temp: 54-79
Winter chill: 318.0 hours
Humidity: 23%
Wind: 2-15

Rain —
This season: 19.15
Days since last: 8

Hung shade cloth over the greenhouse window. This is something I do every April, removing it in October. Since my house is not square on the compass, the greenhouse windows gets several hours of morning sun from now until fall.

Potted the magenta Cyclamen that I bought two days ago.

Gave the peach tree a drench of a systemic insecticide to prevent flat-head borers, which severely damaged my previous peach trees. I was also going to treat the zelkova in front, but the instructions say to use 1 ounce of insecticide concentrate for every inch of circumfrence of the tree's trunk. The zelkova has a trunk 60 inches around, which would have required far more concentrate than I have.

Started pruning another myrtle (11 Mar). I did not finish because I also have to trim the edges of the back lawn and prune the Artemisia 'Powis Castle' (A. arborescens × absinthium?), both of which I started. The myrtle takes up much room in the garden waste bin, and I wanted to leave room for further gardening later this week.

14 Apr

Clear, sunny, and mild

Temp: 48-71
Winter chill: 318.0 hours
Humidity: 29%
Wind: 1-16

Rain —
This season: 19.15
Week: 0.22

Drove all the way to the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden — 64.4 miles one-way — to buy a 1-gallon bush anemone (Carpenteria californica), which I could not find any place closer to my home. On the way, I took a side trip to the Ventura branch of my favorite nursery to buy dill to replace the potted dill (24 Mar) that died and two white Cuphea hyssopifolia to replace dead ones in my rose bed. Unfortunately, they did not have small white C. hyssopifolia, so I instead bought a new magenta Cyclamen persicum (11 Nov 16) for my greenhouse window.

Climbed My Hill twice, once to plant the bush anemone and once dragging a hose with me to water it.

Potted the new dill. I will pot the Cyclamen this Sunday.

7 Apr

Mostly clear with some thin clouds, sunny, and mild

Temp: 48-73
Winter chill: 318.0 hours
Humidity: 30%
Wind: 1-14

Fed the roses in front and back with ammonium sulfate.

Trimmed the coyote bush (Baccharis pilularis) around the roses in front and along the public sidewalk.

Finished weeding the brick in front, both the panel for utility boxes and the path to the front door. I also trimmed the pink clover (Persicaria capitata) along the brick path to the door.


Rain —
This season: 18.93
Days since last: 13

31 Mar

Clear, sunny, and mild

Temp: 48-68
Winter chill: 318.0 hours
Humidity: 27%
Wind: 3-20

Rain —
This season: 18.93
Week: 0.01

Removed more weeds from the brick in front, both from the panel where the underground utility junctions are located and from the path to the front door.

Stirred the compost pile. I have not done this in a long time because the pile remained dry during the drought. Without water being added, the leaves in the pile stopped composting. With the abundant rains this past winter, the pile is again active. I think I will be able to sift it soon.

Partially trimmed the Sprenger asparagus (A. densiflorus 'Sprengeri') at the north end of the east bed. This had become quite overgrown. I did not finish, however, because I wanted to leave room in the garden-waste trash bin for finishing the pruning of a myrtle (17 Mar), which I then did.

30 Mar

Clear, sunny, and mild

Temp: 58-75
Winter chill: 318.0 hours
Humidity: 45%
Wind: 0-19

Rain —
This season: 18.93
Week: 0.01

Fed the dwarf citrus and gardenia with ammonium, iron, and zinc sulfates.

When I was preparing to feed the dwarf 'Robertson' navel orange, I noticed the soil was dry and there was extensive leaf-fall. I discovered that the head of the drip irrigation emitter in the orange's very large flower pot was missing. I hand-watered the pot, replaced the emitter with a spare I had, and went on to feed the gardenia. After some more puttering around my garden, I then fed the orange and tested the new emitter. It is now working okay. Tomorrow, I plan to test the rest of my drip irrigation systems.

Much of the "more puttering" consisted of moving leaves off the main patio in back and into the garden-waste trash bin for tomorrow's collection. This is something I do every Thursday, even when I have no other garden tasks. The Tree is in full leaf again, but I am still not rid of its leaves from last year.

26 Mar

Mostly cloudy, gray, and cool

Temp: 48-66
Winter chill: 318.0 hours
Humidity: 58%
Wind: 0-8

Rain —
This season: 18.93
Week: 0.27

Climbed My Hill to spray herbicide on the wild grasses growing there. I used an herbicide that is specific for grass, not killing the shrubs or ground cover.

While up there, I saw a wild artichoke (Cynara scoymus) or cardoon (C. cardunculus) growing in the upper-left corner, just above the end of the cross-hill V-ditch. Because of spines along the edges of its leaves, this is something I would not touch without leather gloves, and I would really need a pruning saw to cut it down. I plan to remove it the next time I climb My Hill to train the 'Flame' grape vine at the top.

The wire ropes used to support the grape vines on My Hill end in steel rebar pounded into the ground. To protect anyone climbing on My Hill and to warn them where the rebar is located, each rod is topped with a bright orange cap. Some of those caps have deteriorated from exposure to the sun. While spraying My Hill, I replaced three of the caps.

24 Mar

Clear, sunny, and cool

Temp: 46-63
Winter chill: 318.0 hours
Humidity: 50%
Wind: 0-16

Rain —
This season: 18.92
Week: 0.24

Planted Penstemon: red at the north end of the east bed and pink at the east end of the rose bed. There used to be dense patches of these at those locations. Although a few plants remain, many died out. If the new plants show good vigor, I might try to root some cuttings to restore the former density.

Planted a blue fescue (Festuca glauca) in the rose bed where a clump of this blue-gray ornamental grass died.

Potted summer annual herbs: basil (Ocimum basilicum) and dill (Anethum graveolens). I bought these in small 4-inch plastic pots, and moved them to 12-inch clay pots.

17 Mar

Clear, sunny, and warm

Temp: 61-81
Winter chill: 318.0 hours
Humidity: 42%
Wind: 1-9

Rain —
This season: 18.68
Days since last: 12

Added another anchor to the star jasmine trellis (19 Feb), this time on the windward side.

Fed the rose bed in back — but not the roses themselves or the Camellia sasanquas — with 27-0-6 lawn food.

Gave the roses in front some Epsom salts. Some of them did not produce any significant canes last year, so I gave those an extra dose.

Trashed my attempt to root 'Goodwin Creek Grey' lavender (Lavandula lanata × dentata) cuttings (14 Oct). Usually, lavender roots quite readily; but these failed, possibly because I took the cuttings at the wrong time of year. Today, I put up fresh cuttings.

Climbed My Hill to feed it with the 27-0-6 lawn food. Now all my general garden feeding is done for the year. While I was on My Hill, I also fixed one of the sprinklers there. During my previous climb, I accidentally sat against that sprinkler and knocked it askew.

Started pruning the dwarf myrtle (Myrtus communis 'Compacta') in the west bed in back. Apparently "dwarf" is a relative term since these are taller than I am (until they are pruned). I last pruned them two years ago (April & May 2015), noting in this diary then that I cut them less severely than usual. That was a mistake. Normally I would prune them every three to four years, but now I am doing it after only two years. This time, I will prune severely.

12 Mar

Clear, sunny, and hot

Temp: 68-83
Winter chill: 318.0 hours
Humidity: 34%
Wind: 4-15

Rain —
This season: 18.68
Week: 0.03

Having bought more rose fertilizer containing systemic insecticide, I finished feeding the roses in front and also fed all the roses in back. While the instructions say to use this fertilizer every six weeks, I wait a full two months. After one month, I give the roses ammonium sulfate.

I also gave the roses in back small doses of Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate), which should promote the growth of new canes. Towards the end of this week, I plan to give the roses in front Epsom salts. I give a little extra to those roses that did not produce new canes last year.

Fed the back lawn and the east, west, teardrop, and circular beds in back with the same 27-0-6 lawn food that I used two days ago in front. I have to buy some more so that I can feed the rose bed — the ground cover, shrubs, and bulbs there — and My Hill.

Finally potted the rooted nephthytis (Syngonium podophyllum) cutting after discarding its parent plant.

Gave each of the small pots in back a pinch of ammonium sulfate. I gave several pinches to the potted Ficus benjamina on my front porch. The humming bird that made a mess on the porch last spring returned and built a new nest on a Ficus leaf. The nest already has some chicks in it.

After more than two months of depending on rain, I restarted my irrigation system. I ran it a little today to wet the fertilizers I used. Tomorrow, it should resume its once-in-three days cycle.

10 Mar

Very thin clouds, sunny (sometimes hazy), and warm

Temp: 62-79
Winter chill: 318.0 hours
Humidity: 38%
Wind: 0-10

Rain —
This season: 18.68
Week: 0.03

Fed the the dwarf citrus with a commercial citrus food plus two pinches of zinc sulfate for each tree. I also gave the gardenia (G. jasminoides 'Veitchii') some citrus food plus a more generous amount of zinc sulfate.

The dwarf tangelo tree (Citrus reticulata × paradisi 'Mineloa') has four small, green tangelos. I am amazed because his is a tree that has no fruit at all in many years. I did not even notice it blooming, and I expect it will bloom again soon. The dwarf navel orange (Citrus sinensis 'Robertson') already has many flower buds.

Fed the entire front yard with a house-brand of 27-0-6 lawn food, which is great also for shrubs and ground covers. I even dropped a handful of this fertilizer down the vertical irrigation pipes for my street tree, a Japanese zelkova (Z. serrata).

Partially weeded the brick panel around the boxes for the underground utilities.

Fed some of the roses in front with a commercial fertilizer that also contains a systemic insecticide. I would have done all the roses in front, but I used up what fertilizer I had on hand.

3 Mar

Very thin clouds, sunny, and mild

Temp: 58-73
Winter chill: 318.0 hours
Humidity: 18%
Wind: 3-14

Rain —
This season: 18.65
Week: 0.18

Sprayed the peach tree with a water-based mixture of dormant oil and a copper fungicide. I also added some liquid soap as a wetting agent. I had a small amount of spray left over, which I used on the 'Perlette' and 'Black Monukka' grape vines. This is about the only preventative spraying I do. I would normally also spray the roses, but the frequency of rain storms prevented any spraying until today. Now the roses are all in full leaf, and the oil would likely damage the new foliage.

Climbed My Hill to prune the 'Flame' grape vine at the top. I also lightly trimmed the vine that has invaded My Hill from the neighbors on the street above me and the coyote bush (Baccharis pilularis) that has volunteered just above the cross-slope V-ditch.

Weather data are from the Cheeseboro (CHE) weather station, about 2 miles ENE of my house.

The high temperature (°F) is daytime for the indicated date; the low temperature (°F) is for the previous night.

Winter chill is the cumulative hours of temperatures at or below 45°F from 1 November through 31 March. It is reported during that period and through April.

The relative humidity is at noon. (In my garden, it is likely higher than reported, a result of regular irrigation.)

Wind speeds (mph) are average (not peak) low and high, midnight to midnight (subject to later correction for diary entries posted before the end of the day). I also indicate peak wind gusts parenthetically when they are significantly high.

Rain is in inches. Season is the cumulative amount of rainfall from 1 October until 30 September of the following year (our "rain-year"). Week is the cumulative amount of measurable rainfall from noon seven days ago until noon of the indicated date. If no measurable rain fell in that period, Days since last is reported.

Characterization of the weather (e.g., Clear, sunny, and warm) is purely subjective; for example, "warm" might occur with higher temperatures than "hot" if the former occurs with lower humidity and more breezes than the latter. Also, a day that would normally be characterized as "mild" might instead be "warm" if the immediately previous days were quite cold. Finally, such characterization reflects when I was actually outside and gardening and ignores changes that occur while I am inside.

The signature line I use when writing messages about my garden includes the following:

Climate: California Mediterranean
Sunset Zone: 21 -- interior Santa Monica Mountains with some ocean influence (USDA 10a, very close to Sunset Zone 19)
See also My Climate.
January-February 2017
November-December 2016
September-October 2016
July-August 2016
May-June 2016
March-April 2016
January-February 2016
November-December 2015
September-October 2015
July-August 2015
May-June 2015
March-April 2015
January-February 2015
November-December 2014
September-October 2014
July-August 2014
May-June 2014
March-April 2014
January-February 2014
November-December 2013
September-October 2013
July-August 2013
May-June 2013
March-April 2013
January-February 2013

Diary entries for 2004 through 2012


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